What’s The Latest On Peter Lowy?

The Jewish Journal hasn’t touched this story, but one of LA’s richest Jews (chair of the board of American Jewish University) is apparently a major tax cheat.

Joe emails:

What’s the latest with this? With the recent pressure UBS is getting to disclose the 17,000+ names of US depositors who have been evading taxes, peter and his lawyers must be negotiating a deal of some sort. I guess he could always move back to Australia where the Lowy name is feared and even the government is afraid to cause them issues.


THE chairman of the US Senate committee investigating tax-haven banks took a direct swipe at Westfield Group’s executive chairman Frank Lowy before his son Peter Lowy appeared at a committee hearing in Washington on Friday night.

Opening the hearing, Democrat Senator Carl Levin said an "ingenious set-up" allowed Mr Lowy senior to "deny with a straight face" that he and his family were beneficiaries of a tax haven arrangement that hid assets from Australian tax authorities.

Senator Levin referred to Mr Lowy’s July 17 statement rejecting a committee report which said Mr Lowy and his sons David, Peter and Steven had used the services of the LGT Bank in the tax haven of Liechtenstein to hide $US68 million.

Mr Lowy’s statement said a committee report was incorrect in alleging that the family were beneficiaries of "a Liechtenstein structure".

The report described the Lowy family’s used of a Delaware company, Beverly Park Corporation, to name the beneficiaries of a Liechtenstein foundation, Luperla, via a British Virgin Islands company, Lonas.

"That meant Luperla had no official beneficiaries at the time it was formed or in the following years," Senator Levin said.

"This ingenious set-up allowed the Lowys to deny with a straight face that they were foundation beneficiaries, while controlling the Delaware corporation that would eventually be used to name those beneficiaries," he said.

Senator Levin also referred to Mr Lowy senior’s comment that "the report fails to mention the fact that all of the funds held in the structure in the Liechtenstein Bank were distributed for charitable purposes in Israel some years ago".

"He has refused the subcommittee’s request to name the charities involved or identify the dates and amounts of the donations," Senator Levin said.

"He has also declined the subcommittee’s invitation to supply additional information about Luperla Foundation or LGT Bank."

There was further tension between the committee and the family after Peter Lowy, a Los Angeles resident, declined to answer questions on Friday night, asserting his right under the Fifth Amendment of the US constitution which protects against self-incrimination.

He told the committee that "respectfully" he had been advised not to answer questions, and in less than three minutes he had been excused.

Mr Lowy, 49, who runs Westfield’s US operations and is a US citizen, had been called to appear on July 17 but asked for eight days’ delay due to business commitments.

Ranking Republican member Norm Coleman scolded Mr Lowy, saying: "Mr Lowy had left the United States on a red-eye flight to Australia, just before the United States Marshals Service could track him down and serve him with a subcommittee subpoena.

"All we seek here today is what we ask of any person or entity that we engage with: a measure of candour and respect for the law."

When Mr Lowy was excused, his lawyer, Robert Bennett, who sat with his client during the brief hearing, asked to make "one correction that I feel is very important".

Senator Levin refused, saying: "We are not going to have you testify in lieu of your client."

Bennett repeated: "The committee has made a mistake."

When this failed, he threatened to address the media instead.

"I’m sure you will, anyway," Levin replied.

Outside the inquiry, Mr Bennett said it was "absolutely false" that Mr Lowy had tried to duck the subpoena. He said the marshals knew he was overseas because Mr Lowy’s lawyers had told them so, and that he had not travelled to Australia to avoid being served.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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